By David Anderson, Tillicum
My five-year-old grandson loves to play “I Spy.” It’s a game he always wins because the version we use when he visits our house is the same one he has at his home so he’s very up on where all those very-hard-to-otherwise-find objects are in the jumbled pictures.
Evidently the Washington State Legislature has a similar game they play but the public’s version appears to be missing some pieces.
Did you know that a gambling expansion measure will be on the Republican’s docket when they unveil their budget proposal Friday, Feb.17? No? You didn’t see that? Perhaps that’s because unlike in the past three years – in each of which gambling expansion gambits were stand-alone bills and all failed – this year the proposal is buried somewhere in the jumbled pieces that make up the budget package.
Unlike Substitute House Bill 2346 which concerns “the procurement of correctional officer uniforms” (no, really, there is a bill for that); or House Bill 2280 that “establishes a yellow-dot program for motor vehicles” (a reference to disgruntled car buyers who believe they’ve bought a lemon?) – we’d have no idea gambling expansion had been scheduled on the legislative line-up but for the ‘oh-and-by-the-way’ off-hand six-word (out of 935) reference in a Seattle paper on the eve of the “unveiling” of the Republican’s budget-fix.
And “fix” it is. Like an addict needing a fix, or the website “The fix is in” subtitled “the source for all sports related conspiracies”, the conspiratorial Republicans are likewise fixated on fixing the state economy by providing local communities with expanded opportunities to get, well, their “fix”.
The “fix” is slot-machines. The Republicans are proposing an addition of 600 one-armed all-the-bells-and-whistles bandits for Lakewood casinos alone. Now does this ring a bell? It should. One month and one year to the day, this attempt to “level the playing field with the tribes” by allowing 125 slot machines in each of the 63 non-tribal casinos state-wide – failed. And, exactly 13-months ago, Lakewood was on board with this proposal. But that was then and this is now. Now it’s different, yes? No.
Lakewood, like the rest of the state, is even more sweaty-palmed-gambling-revenue-desperate. Faced with laying off four employees; leaving unfilled another four positions currently vacant; adjusting downward the cost of living adjustments for managers; slashing the training and supply budgets; raising by $5 (from $10 to $15) the launch fees for a single boat; and taking away some of the city paid cell phones, gosh please don’t take my Kodachrome away.
The problem here locally is that the cutbacks are due, in part, to lower gambling tax revenue which is due, in part, to fewer locals gambling so the obvious solution is, in part, for the 62 percent who voted to keep gambling in Lakewood to put their money where their vote is. Gamble more. Lose more. Help save our city.
Of course given city leader’s consistent support of gambling – despite recent events in the police department – we can expect they’ve already spied a way to solve this dilemma in Olympia.